Plasterboard company pleads guilty to safety failure - 3.12.13

A company manufacturing plasterboard products was fined $40,000 and more than $1800 in costs over a worker’s serious injury.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe work environment causing serious harm to an employee. They were fined in the Midland Magistrates Court on Monday.

The incident happened in June 2010 when a machinery operator was operating a complex of machines which included a component known as a perforator when he noticed that two plasterboard sheets were stationary, one on the top of the other, on the perforator feed conveyor and neither was going into the perforator.

Earlier, he had lifted a guard to clear jammed sheets from the perforator roller and the guard was left sitting at an angle, creating a larger than usual aperture from the infeed. The lower board went into the perforator, knocking his right arm and drawing it into the blades of the perforator through the gap in the guard. It didn’t stop rotating, drawing his arm further into the machine.

Another worker heard the injured worker’s cry for help and stopped the machine. Co-workers were unable to free the man from the machine but paramedics and emergency crew freed him after around 40 minutes.

He suffered serious injuries to his arm and was required several surgeries and extensive medical treatment.

WorkSafe Director Joe Attard, said today that the case stressed the importance of having safe work procedures in place at all times.

“The incident that led to this court case is a stark reminder of the need for effective guarding, safe systems of work and ongoing training of workers,” said Mr Attard.

“This severe injury would not have been possible if the guarding on this machine had been fixed in place at the minimum aperture required for sheets of plasterboard to pass through.

“Guarding of the dangerous moving parts of machinery is such a basic and easy precaution to take, and it really is time for employers to take a good hard look at the guarding situation and stop exposing employees to the risk of injury or death.

“In addition, the risk of the perforator jamming had arisen due to a recent change in the way the perforator was used. Any change in systems of work should be accompanied by a thorough risk assessment, a crucial requirement in a workplace with machinery of this nature.

“It is apparent that this employer failed to carry out that assessment adequately.

“Additional safety components were added to the machinery after this incident, but too late for the worker who was left with serious arm injuries.”

Source: Safety Culture OHS News